Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Do You Believe in Patriotism?

Published: The Masses, March, 1916.
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for marxists.org in October, 2002. Note: This is Flynn's response to the question, "Do you believe in patriotism?"

Do you believe in patriotism? What an odd question to ask revolutionists! Might it not be better put, "American Socialists, have you the courage of your principles? Shall it be 'America First' or 'Workers of the World, Unite!'"

Count m for Labor First. This country is not "our" country. Then why should the toilers love it or fight for it? Why sanction the title deeds of our masters in the blood of our fellow-slaves? Let those who own the country, who are howling for and profiting by preparedness, fight to defend their property.

I despise the rule of Rockefeller and Morgan as much as that of King or Kaiser, and am as outraged by Ludlow and Calumet as by Belgium. Joe Hill was as cruelly martyred as Edith Cavell, and I cannot work myself into a frenzy of patriotism wherever a contraband ship is sunk and we lose a few prominent citizens.

I save my concern for Quinlan, Lawson, Ford and Suhr, and the innumerable victims of the class war.

The majority of our workers are foreigners, one or two generations removed, and with their European home-ties and American environment, internationalism becomes the logical patriotism of a heterogeneous population.

America--not as a melting-pot, that produces a jingoistic, mercenary, one-mold type, but as a giant loom weaving into a mighty whole the sons, the poetry, the traditions, and the customs of all races, until a beautiful human fabric, with each thread intact, comes forth--would stretch forth a myriad hands of brotherhood to the four quarters of the globe.

The train on which I write rushes by factories where murder instruments are made for gold. I would be ashamed to be patriotic of such a country. In the black smoke belched from their chimneys, I see the ghostly faces of dead workers--our poor, deluded slain brothers. I re-affirm my faith, "It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class!"